With the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran, some are panicking in despair, while others have visions of a dramatically realigned Middle East. Both views are overreactions, since the deal itself is quite limited in scope, and the impact of 35 years of history and politics cannot easily be erased.
No one can claim that President Obama was not transparent in this masterful press conference. He answered every question, and even extended the press conference to answer more. It may take a sledgehammer to get the Republicans to take their fingers out of their ears.
Iran has won the diplomatic struggle over its nuclear program in Vienna. Its success was not due to United States negotiators' fecklessness as Republican critics and Prime Minister Netanyahu have been quick to assert.
With 2016 fast approaching, things look bleak for the GOP. Pandering to a non-white voting block could very well end up costing it the South, as it did to the Democrats in the 1960s. At the same time, pandering to base will alienate too many groups to win in a general election--not the least of which are Latinos.
Time will tell whether the nuclear agreement will have the desired results: elimination of Iran as a nuclear threat; reduction of its sponsorship of terrorist activities; opening Iran to commerce with the west; and guaranteeing Iranians a full range of human rights. But it's an important (long overdue) first step.
President Obama has opened the door to dialogue with two nations -- Cuba and Iran -- that Americans have long considered to be enemies. He did this despite the resistance of powerful counter-forces and for that he should be applauded.
There is a real opportunity to realize a qualitative shift in the relations between Iran and the world through reassuring measures in the region. Obama has the opportunity to broker the needed rapprochement and dialogue, and help establish constructive relations.
The rings of Hell are everywhere, we place our leap of faith that stalling nuclear development trumps continued sponsorship of terrorism and regional aggression.
While entering into this nuclear deal with Iran is far from perfect, it nevertheless offers a potential for optimism. First of all, it would delay Iran's nuclear program for at least 10 to 15 years, and this alone is a significant benefit.
To put the precipice truly behind us, we have to push the Iran deal through Congress. And then the hard work really begins of turning a narrow nuclear agreement into the game-changer that the Middle East so desperately needs.
It is interesting to speculate how the partisan lines would divide had this same agreement been concluded during the George W. Bush years. Based on the history of the Cold War years, there would have been considerable support from the Democratic side and not the solid partisan resistance from Republicans now committed to blinkered opposition to anything achieved by the Obama Administration. This agreement to limit Iranian nuclear ambitions does not and could not solve all the complex problems represented by Iran in the Middle East any more than nuclear arms agreements with the Soviets solved all the problems they represented in the world. No plausible and persuasive argument has yet been offered as to why we and our allies would be better off without this agreement. Until it is offered, this agreement profoundly requires Congressional approval.
Let's say that the U.S. Congress rejects the deals. If so, we could see a hardliner comeback in Iran, a victory for the sponsors of terrorism, an increased likelihood of Israel bombing Iran, with a retaliation that drags America into a conflict that makes Iraq look like a skirmish.
Those who oppose deals like this often proclaim a binary world of simple good and evil, which we don't have -- and believing so is a dangerous illusion.
The Republican Congress and prospective presidential candidates owe the American people candor and courage in staking out their principled opposition to the deal.
As we start to analyze the details of the deal and think about its implications, there are a few things we should keep in mind going forward, so that we are looking at this agreement in the right context.
The nuclear deal with Iran is to be welcomed -- mainly because Obama allowed himself to be trapped in a position where the only alternative was confrontation with the prospect for war. The strategic implications, if not accompanied by wider policy adjustments here and in the region, are marginal at best.